Revamping the brand identity of an ambitious energy logistics firm

Increasing hurricanes, wildfires, and floods inspired Tri Vo to rethink how the energy sector, where he’d spent his entire career, contributed to the climate crisis. Years after he founded Austin-based energy logistics firm Elevation Energy Group, he enrolled at Parsons School of Design at the New School to pursue an MFA in industrial design. What he learned: when it comes to making things—design, materials, and user experience—he says, “environmental impact isn’t often ingrained in the process.”

Vo shifted his focus. He built out a practice to offer companies, big and small, sustainability and decarbonization services. He rebranded Elevation Energy Group to CarbonBetter, an energy logistics company that’s committed to a future net-zero economy (an equal balance of greenhouse gas input and output from the atmosphere). A new mission and name demanded a new brand identity and strategy to establish authority in a progressively critical space—the World Economic Forum considers environmental dangers to be among the biggest global risks. Godfrey Dadich was up for the challenge.

At CarbonBetter’s core was a strong message: Small action drives massive impact. (The company was living that message too. Instead of constructing a new Austin headquarters from scratch, Vo and his team repurposed an old church, and they learned how to brew a cup of carbon-neutral coffee.) From the peelable to the graphics, from voice to positioning, our goal was to communicate that CarbonBetter is a judgment-free hand extended toward clients right where they are, whether that’s at the starting line or somewhere down the road. A thoughtful action by one person or business can produce big change.

The CarbonBetter logomark is dynamic and adaptive across a variety of applications and sizes.

Take its peelable, a graphic we dubbed “The Multiplier.”

CarbonBetter’s color palette—“Soft Black,” “Better Blue,” and “Electric Green”—represents energy and optimism. The Multiplier’s form is inspired by carbon dioxide’s scientific formula (think back to chemistry class). We reduced “O=C=O” to a geometric progression of three circles, each doubling in scale to represent growth. The half circle in Soft Black represents the effort to reduce carbon. The single Better Blue circle represents a single person or action, and the double-wide Electric Green pill shape represents exponential impact. The wordmark is sans serif with heavy slabs on the “a” and “tt” to instill a sense of stability.

Based in simplicity and science, the Multiplier conveys the brand’s messaging that’s focused on exponential growth and optimism.

Highlighting the significance of one unit in a larger sum carried over into photography. We used a 1:2 ratio to strengthen the idea—for example, pairing a photo of the veins of a leaf next to a forest, or a drop of water next to the ocean.

A 1:2 photo principle illustrates the idea that the large picture is always made up of many smaller parts.

After conducting a comprehensive competitive audit of websites within and beyond the environmental space, Godfrey Dadich created an information architecture and robust digital design system. We brought the new brand to life by leveraging rich typographic textures, storytelling tools and components, the Multiplier’s shape, and the pairing of bold photography with strong calls to action—all while expanding on the determined branded guidelines. After more than a dozen iterations, we achieved a distinct and sophisticated website that clearly highlighted CarbonBetter’s offerings, including an editorial platform to tell its story as an ambitious minority-owned business.

Stewardship is a process in which every step is worth celebrating. For consumers who want to identify a business’s level of commitment to reducing its carbon emissions, GDP helped CarbonBetter develop a badging system. Corresponding to the color language used in the Multiplier, a Better Blue badge means a company has pledged to create a net-zero future, and an Electric Green badge means a company is CarbonBetter Certified and working as a unified front. Colored badges shine best in digital applications, and black or white badges were recommended for packaging.

A celebration of progress and commitment, we designed the CarbonBetter badge to be displayed on a variety of products from pledged and partnered companies.

Storytelling is as much visual as it is words spoken in a meeting or copy on a page. Clients like CarbonBetter allow us to tackle both. “GDP became an extension of our team,” Vo says. “We collaborated in the deepest sense of the word to get to the final product.”